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Tentative Revised School Budget and Girls Volleyball Proposal Presented At Board of Education Meeting

The Alternative Press Staff

Monday, March 17, 2014 • 6:00am

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ -  Superintendent Judy Rattner presented the revised 2014/15 school budget that included the newly reported state aid numbers at the March 13 Board of Education meeting. 

Rattner said that the District's Mission Statement is at the core of the decisions that they make. 

The original budget plan included a $1.3 million (2.9%) increase as presented at the Feb. 28 BOE meeting. The administrators came up with a list of reductions totaling $1.2 million.

The revised budget is developed with the following assumptions:

  • It represents contracts that were already negotiated.
  • Enrollment projections representing an increase of 25 students at the high school and an overall reduction at the elementary schools.
  • Health benefits costs have increased by 15%.
  • Capital items to be addressed taking advantage of the ROD grants, the State will fund 40% of the project costs.  

The budget allows for maintaining the class size policy, prepares students for PARCC testing and Common Core, upgrades to facilities while taking advantage of state grants, repairs to Columbia B wing roof and clasrooms, improves technology infrastructure, and meets requirements of students with special needs.

The budget revisions include adding the following list of priority items: PSATs for juniors, library books at elementary schools, three stipend positions at Gov. Livingston, two assistant baseball/softball coaches, 50 additional iPads, supplies at several schools; all totaling $65,000. 

The tax levy increase of 3% equates to a $216 increase on the average assessed home; of the $216, the school budget accounts for $160 of the increase, while a decrease in Berkeley Heights ratables account for the remaining $56.

It was recommended by the board to adopt the revised tentative 2014/15 school district budget. The budget will be submitted to the Executive County Superintendent of School for approval. 

Patrick Fuhrmann, Nancy Reiner and Jane Sottosanti presented a proposal to the Board for a girl’s volleyball program at Gov. Livingston.  The proposal was for one team to compete during the Fall season. 

They have received over 80 responses to a survey that was distributed to Columbia Middle School and Gov. Livingston families assessing the interest in starting a volleyball program. 

The proposal included a request that the Board fund $9,600 of the first year costs, which isn’t in accordance with the district’s policy.  The policy requires new sports to be parent funded for the first four years.  The parent group will work with Athletic Director Ann Clifton and Principal Scott McKinney to update their proposal to comply with the policy.  Rattner expects to have a recommendation on the program for the Board at the April 10 meeting.

The Berkeley Heights Public Schools have been closed for seven (7) days due to inclement weather so far this school year. Because the number of school closings has exceeded the four (4) additional days built into the 2013-2014 school calendar, the Berkeley Heights Public Schools will now be in session for students and staff members on Monday, April 14, and Tuesday, April 15 and Wednesday, April 16. The selection of these days as school days in the event of more than four school closings is listed on the 2013-2014 school district calendar, which is posted on the District Website.

The 2014/15 School District Calendar has been revised to build in more snow days. Two previously ‘closed’ school days in the 2014/15 calendar have now been changed to a ½ day of school for students and ½ day of in-service training for teachers.   

 
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